Congress Spends First Day Back At Work Getting All Up In Our Vaginas With Sweeping Abortion Ban

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Congress Announces Launch Of Congressional HIV/AIDS CaucusIt’s a fresh day, the fresh start to a new year and a new session of Congress. What better way to start things off right than by trying again to pass a threadbare piece of anti-choice legislation that has already failed time and again? Well, I can think of a few things, but apparently our duly-elected government representatives could not.

This week, The Hill reports, the shiny new Congress (which is made up of enough elderly white men to make it indistinguishable from the old Congress – or, in the case of John Boehner, an elderly orange man) decided that the best use of their time would be to resurrect the scabby, crumbling zombie that is the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would make abortion after 20 weeks illegal across the entire nation. The bill operates under the extremely dubious unscientific assumption that a 20-week-old fetus is able to experience pain; the idea that pregnant people might experience pain, on the other hand, does not appear to have crossed the radar.

The bill, introduced by Representatives Trent Franks and Marsha Blackburn, is something of a tradition, and it’s a worse and creepier one than even the Elf on the Shelf could ever aspire to: every year, Franks attempts to raise the issue, and every year it founders and fails. Last year’s sad effort made it as far as the Senate, but now that Franks’ anti-choice party controls both halves of Congress, we can expect the bill to gasp its last breath on the desk of the President instead. What an awesome and very efficient use of legislators’ time!

In a statement released with the new bill, Franks went on to compare abortion to torture, displaying only that he knows as little about torture as he does about abortion. For those who are confused about this, here is a short list of facts about abortion after 20 weeks in the United States:

  • It doesn’t happen very often (the way statistics are collected make an exact number unclear, but it’s less than 5% of abortions that happen after this point).
  • 20 weeks is also when a lot of pregnant people get their first full anatomy scan – a.k.a., the point when many severe fetal abnormalities are detectable for the first time.
  • When a fetus dies in utero, it is technically considered an abortion to have it removed (and if you are in favor of making a pregnant person carry her dead child inside of her, something is really really wrong with you – and yes, that is a fact and belongs on this list).
  • Strict restrictions that force abortion clinics to shut down make it harder to access abortions when someone first needs one, kicking the can down the street past the 20-week mark. Good job, anti-choicers, you have only yourself to blame for this one!
  • It is none of your business why someone chooses to have an abortion, after 20 weeks or before.

I’m tired of writing this story. I’m tired of talking about the latest and not-so-greatest ways politicians are jockeying to take legal rights away from people with uteruses. ThinkProgress reminds us that more abortion laws were passed in the last two years than in the entire decade before that – laws that close clinics, laws that force women to undergo invasive ultrasounds, laws that ban procedures entirely. When does the pendulum get to swing back the other way? Why can’t we be trusted to make decisions for our own bodies? And please, where does this stop?

(Image: Brendan Hoffman/Getty)